What: Jared McVay discusses his writing

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Herringbone Books, 422 SW Sixth St., Redmond

Cost: free

Contact: herringbonebooks.com or 541-526-1491

Award-winning Powell Butte author Jared McVay has lived a life just as colorful and adventurous (although presumably less murderous) as Clay Brentwood, the rancher-turned-gunman protagonist of his popular historical Western series. McVay will discuss the seventh book in the Brentwood series, “Ol’ Son,” along with his other writing, at a Saturday event in Redmond.

McVay and his wife, Jerri, moved to Central Oregon last spring from Lynnwood, Washington, but his journey here was a winding one.

“I’m 78 years old,” McVay said. “I’ve been around the world a few times.” He means that literally and figuratively, having sailed solo around the world in the mid-1980s and served in the Navy in the early 1960s.

Born in 1940 into a poor family in Eureka, Kansas, McVay was 5 years old when his father died. At 14, he left home and worked as a cowboy, jockey, lumberjack, rodeo rider and rodeo clown, before serving for five years in the Navy. He went on to earn a business degree from Wichita State University. For a time, he worked as a lineman for Kansas Gas and Electric.

But McVay’s dream had always been to become an actor. During school, McVay developed a love of theater after performing in school plays and being selected to perform in a touring production of “Peter Pan” the summer after seventh-grade.

“That was my first paid job, and I got $25 a week, plus room and board,” McVay said.

That theater bug stuck with McVay throughout his other job forays, until he decided to move first to Denver and then Chicago to pursue acting full time. Around 1980, he headed to Los Angeles and began a successful 20-year career as a character actor in television and film, with parts in hit shows such as “Hill Street Blues,” “Ally McBeal,” “Malcolm in the Middle” and many more. He also worked as a stand-up comedian, served on the board of the Screen Actors Guild and ghostwrote and edited several screenplays.

But in 2000, when his wife at the time was diagnosed with cancer, the couple decided to leave Los Angeles. They eventually settled in South Carolina. There McVay became involved in storyteller guilds, and his wife encouraged him to write a novel.

“I had been writing short stories since high school and won some awards, but I never thought about writing a book,” McVay said. “So, I cheated and instead of writing a novel, I wrote a children’s book.”

That first book, “Bears, Bicycles and Broomsticks,” was published in 2010 and incorporated 11 tales McVay had created for his storytelling work.

He followed up in 2011 with his first novel, “The Legend of Joe, Willy & Red,” which is about three friends in the 1930s fleeing from a crime of which they have been falsely accused. At his wife’s suggestion, the book was loosely based on some of his own youthful adventures as a train-hopping hobo. It was named a finalist in the Chaucer Awards for historical fiction. His second novel, a classic Western adventure titled “Hacker’s Raid,” was a finalist in the 2013 Laramie Awards for Western, pioneer and Civil War fiction.

After his wife’s death, McVay moved to Washington state to be closer to one of his daughters and continued writing. He has penned a contemporary action thriller and a young adult fantasy novel in addition to the seven-book Clay Brentwood series.

The influence of McVay’s acting career can be seen in his visual and somewhat unusual writing process.

“I don’t do a bunch of research or character breakdowns or outlines,” McVay said. “I sit down at the computer and turn on a switch in my head and write down everything I see and hear and the book is written. When I start, I don’t know the character’s name. I never really know from one page to the next what’s going to happen.”

McVay likes to write for several hours each morning and aims to complete between 2,000 and 3,000 words per day. It typically takes him six weeks to complete the first draft followed by three rounds of edits, before sending the manuscript to his publisher for final edits.

The common thread between the various genres, characters and settings of McVay’s novels is that each contains some kind of love story, whether romantic love or brotherly love. He is currently working on book eight in the Clay Brentwood series, the first novel in a new contemporary series built around a female protagonist named Kathleen McClusky and a second children’s book.

“I just love to entertain people,” McVay said. “Hopefully, I can do that with my books now, instead of in front of the camera.”

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